On Jan. 24, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced Senate Bill 889, which would raise the age at which suspects in California are tried as adults from 18 to 20.
"When teenagers make serious mistakes and commit crimes, state prison is not the answer," Skinner said in a news release announcing the bill Tuesday. "Processing teenagers through the juvenile justice system will help ensure they receive the appropriate education, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation services necessary to achieve real public safety outcomes."
Skinner worked with the Chief Probation Officers of California, the National Center for Youth Law and "other juvenile justice advocates" to craft the bill, according to the news release.
"Under California law, teenagers can't buy cigarettes, beer or even rent a car, yet they can be sent to prison for the rest of their lives," Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods said. "Kids should be treated like kids."
The bill is at least partly based on research that shows the human brain isn't fully developed in 18- and 19-year-olds, according to the announcement from Skinner's office.
While it has not yet taken an official position on the bill, officials with the California District Attorneys Association are skeptical.
"The obvious reaction is: you're 18, you're old enough to bind yourself in a contract, you're old enough to marry, you're old enough to vote, you're old enough to join a police force and you're certainly old enough to put your life on the line by joining the military," said Larry Morse, CDAA's legislative director.
"But this (bill) would say you're not old enough to be responsible as an adult for committing a violent crime," Morse said. "It's inconsistent and arbitrary at best."
The bill could be assigned its first committee hearing within a month at the earliest.
—Bay City News Service
Laundry room fire
Mountain View firefighters extinguished a fire that broke out in a two-story apartment building over the weekend, scorching the laundry room. No one was injured or displaced.
Fire officials say the small blaze was coming from a dryer at the complex, located on the 2200 block of California Street. It was first reported in a 911 call shortly after noon on Saturday, Jan. 25, by a witness who saw flames through the window of the room.
Fire crews put out the flames and found that the fire did not extend into the units surrounding the laundry room. The area was cleared around 12:22 p.m.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Damage to the structure and contents of the laundry room is estimated to be $20,000.
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